BLASTING DEMS FOR WALKING TO WORK…. Two weeks ago, House Democratic leaders walked from a caucus meeting to Capitol Hill, en route to the final debate over health care reform. As the lawmakers approached the building, assorted right-wing activists chastised Dems, reportedly used racial and ethnic slurs, and in one instance, spat on an African-American lawmaker.

Two weeks later, conservatives are still talking about the ugly scene — and are still blaming Democrats for the far-right’s thuggish behavior.

Greg Sargent noted yesterday, “Conservative media keep pushing nutty, self-aggrandizing BS meme that Dems hatched an elaborate plot to incite Tea Partiers to racism and violence.” It seems hard to believe — aren’t there other lines conservatives should be trying out right now? — but this really has risen to the top of the list of right-wing talking points.

There was Cal Thomas on Fox News:

“Look, when Nancy Pelosi walked through those Tea Partiers, it was like — what should analogize this to? Ah, the march through Skokie, Illinois, by the Nazis? It was deliberately provocative! They wanted a reaction!”

And Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Fox News:

“Remember when Speaker Pelosi walked arm-in-arm in a civil rights march across Independence Avenue from the House buildings over to the Capitol,” Bachmann told Sean Hannity in a Fox News appearance Thursday. “In three years I have never seen Nancy Pelosi cross the street the way that you saw in that picture. They deliberately went through that crowd perhaps to try and incite something.”


And Andrew Breitbart on his website:

The natural route is the tunnels between the House office buildings and the Capitol. By crafting a highly symbolic walk of the Congressional Black Caucus through the majority white crowd, the Democratic Party was looking to provoke a negative reaction.

And Mark Steyn in National Review yesterday:

On the eve of the health care vote, a group of black Democrat [sic] Congressmen (eschewing the private tunnels they usually use to cross from their offices to the Capitol) chose to walk en masse through a crowd of protesters, confident that the knuckledragging Tea Party goons they and their media pals have reviled for a year now would respond with racial epithets.

And then, when the crowd didn’t, the black Congressmen made it up anyway. Representative Andre Carson (Democrat, Indiana) insisted he heard the N-word 15 times. He’s either suffering from the same condition as that Guam-flipper from Georgia, or he’s a liar.

Steyn went on to compare Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to “a Holocaust survivor painting a swastika on his own door” to embarrass his neighbor.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the argument here. Democrats heard racist rhetoric from some in the Tea Party crowd. Rather than denounce the racism, conservatives prefer to argue that African-American lawmakers are liars.

In the next breath, those same conservatives insist that the racist slurs (that ostensibly didn’t exist) should be blamed on Democrats themselves for inciting the right-wing crowd.

So, we’re to believe (a) unhinged activists didn’t use bigoted language; and (b) if unhinged activists did use bigoted language, it’s Democrats’ fault because they walked to the Capitol.

Best of all, two weeks later, this is the part of the health care debate conservatives are most anxious to talk about. How bizarre.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.